A new respectful relationships program has been created for university students.

University lobby Universities Australia (UA) has partnered with violence prevention organisation Our Watch and the Victorian Government’s Office for Women to develop the new program, which will be trialled with students over the next 18 months.

“Sexual violence affects every country in the world — preventing it is a global challenge and our universities have stepped up to play their part,” said Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson.

“No single program on its own can bring about change and that’s why this training will work in concert with a comprehensive university sector-led program to enhance counselling services, reporting policies, training for staff and wider violence prevention efforts.”

The online program will be combined with a new set of workplace standards, training packages, resources and toolkits for senior leaders, staff and students to promote gender equality under a whole-of-institution approach to prevent violence — the Respect and Equality Program (REP).

“Working in partnership with prevention experts, we can tackle the society-wide drivers of violence against women and highlight a shared resolve on safety and respect for all students,” Ms Jackson said.

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said: “We welcome the commitment of Universities Australia, and their 39 member universities, to tackling gendered violence on campuses, through this work with Our Watch.”

“It is the responsibility of the whole community to prevent violence against women, and this can only be achieved using a whole of community approach, that includes our tertiary education sector,” Ms Kinnersly said.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected wherever they work or study. We look forward to using this evidence-based approach to tackle the issues of disrespect and violence against women.”